Mercury Capri

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Mercury Capri
Mercury Capri (2625387063).jpg
1971 Capri
ManufacturerFord Europe (1970–1977)
Mercury (Ford) (1979–1986)
Ford Australia (1991–1994)
Body and chassis
ClassSports car (1970–1977)
Pony car (1979–1986)
Roadster (1991–1994)

Mercury Capri is an automobile nameplate marketed by the Mercury division of Ford Motor Company on three distinct automobiles between 1970 and 1994. From the 1971 to 1978 model years, the Capri was a compact coupe produced in West Germany by Ford of Europe as a captive import, replaced by an American-built pony car from 1979 to 1986. From 1991 to 1994, the Mercury Capri was again a captive import, built as a convertible by Ford of Australia.

The first and third-generation Capri was marketed in North America without a direct Ford branded counterpart.

Origin of name[edit]

The origin of the name after the Italian island of Capri, dates back to the Lincoln Capri of the 1950s. Ford of Britain also produced a Ford Consul Capri for 1962–1964. The Capri name was later used as a sub-model of the Mercury Comet series for the 1966–1967 model years.

The Ford Capri was developed as a "baby Mustang" for Ford of Europe, a two-door car with a short trunklid (later hatchback) and a long hood.

First generation (1970–1977)[edit]

See also Ford Capri

First generation
1973 Capri 2600 Enhanced.jpg
1973 Capri 2600
1973 Capri 2000 revised dash, steering wheel
Also calledFord Capri
AssemblyCologne, Germany
Saarlouis, Germany[1]
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe (1970–1974)
2-door hatchback (1976–1978)
LayoutFR layout
RelatedFord Cortina
Engine1.6 L Kent I4
2.0 L OHC I4
2.3 L OHC I4
2.6 L OHV V6
2.8 L OHV V6
Wheelbase100.7 in (2,560 mm)
Length167.8–174.8 in (4,260–4,440 mm)
Width64.8–66.9 in (1,650–1,700 mm)
Height52.0–53.4 in (1,320–1,360 mm)
Curb weight2,250–2,734 lb (1,021–1,240 kg)

The first generation of the Capri was a captive import produced by Ford of Europe in Cologne, Germany. Introduced in Europe for 1968 (and designed by Ford of Britain using local sourced components from the Cortina MkII and Escort with plans dating back to 1964 when development of a European variant of the Mustang commenced), the Ford Capri was marketed by the Lincoln-Mercury Division starting in April 1970. While marketed as part of the Mercury model line, the Capri did not carry any divisional identification.[2] Priced at $2,300 at the time of its launch, the Capri was marketed as an economical sporty coupe (with no upscale trim levels unlike its European market variants e.g. the GT, RS, L, XL, and XLR which were trim levels), far smaller than the Mercury Cougar and Montego.[2]

In its adaptation to the American market, the Capri saw several minor revisions, with the two rectangular headlights of the Ford Capri replaced by four circular headlamps (shared with some upscale Capri models sold for the European market eg the RS or GT - the rectangular lighting did not meet FMVSS 108), grille-mounted turn signals, and side marker lights; Rostyle wheels were fitted as standard equipment. While produced in Germany as a variant of the Ford Cortina, the Capri adopted powertrain commonality with the newly introduced Ford Pinto. Originally powered by a 1.6L Kent "crossflow" inline-four, the Capri received a 2.0L "OHC" inline-4 for 1971. As an option, for 1972, Mercury introduced a 2.6L Cologne V6, becoming the first American-market vehicle marketed by Ford Motor Company with a V6 engine. For 1974, the V6 was enlarged to 2.8L, as Ford revised castings for both the engine block and cylinder heads.

For 1973, the front bumper underwent a revision to comply with 5-mph bumper standards. The previous chrome bumper was reinforced with a steel tube and attached to the frame with shock absorbers (extending the length of the body several inches). As part of the change, the Capri saw revisions to the grille, taillamps, and its rear quarter trim grilles. As part of an interior revision, the Capri was given a new steering wheel, dashboard, and seat trim along with a redesigned wiring harness. For 1974, 5 mph bumpers were fitted to both front and rear, replacing the previous chrome tube bumpers with reinforced body-colored plastic bumpers.

Capri II[edit]

After the 1974 redesign of the Ford Capri, Lincoln-Mercury commenced American sales of the Capri Mk II in 1975 as an early 1976 model. Skipping the 1975 model year entirely, Lincoln-Mercury renamed the Capri the Capri II, again omitting any formal divisional identification from the vehicle.[2] While sharing similar styling to its predecessor, the Capri II adopted a hatchback roofline. As with the 1970–1974 Capri, to adapt to the American market, the Capri II was fitted with quad sealed-beam headlamps, grille-mounted turn signals, 5-mph bumpers, and body-color side-view mirror(s).

Again maintaining powertrain commonality with the Ford Pinto, Ford Mustang II and Mercury Bobcat, the Capri II was fitted with the 2.3L OHC engine, offering a 2.8L V6 as an option.

After the 1977 model year, Lincoln-Mercury ended imports of the Capri II from Ford of Europe, with unsold examples sold during the 1978 model year. In total, 513,500 Capri/Capri IIs were sold from 1970 to 1978 by Lincoln-Mercury. At its peak, yearly Capri sales in North America were the highest for any import vehicle (with the exception of the Volkswagen Beetle). Ford of Europe continued production of the Capri for another generation, through the end of 1986.


Lincoln-Mercury advertisement-1971

Road and Track magazine on the 1970 Capri 1600: "...But styling and image sells cars, right? And if that's true, then it's our opinion that Lincoln-Mercury has a real winner in the Capri."[3]

R&T on the Capri 2000 in February, 1971: "The Capri has a lot to recommend it. It's a solidly built, sporty compact car and (especially with the 2-liter engine) fun to drive."[4]

R&T on the Capri 2600 V6 in March, 1972: "...the Capri 2600 V6 is an outstanding car. We'll bet Lincoln-Mercury dealers won't be able to get enough of them to satisfy the demand."[5]

R&T on the Capri 2800 V6: "...the V6 Capri remains a very attractive sporting car. It's solid as a Mercedes, still compact and light in the context of 1974 barrier busters, fast, reasonably economical of fuel, precise-handling, and quick-stopping: its engine and drivetrain are both sporty and refined. It's no wonder Lincoln-Mercury sold nearly 120,000 of them in 1973..."[6]

R&T on the Capri II 2.8 V6: "Once again we can report that the Capri V6 is an attractive, competent, and enjoyable car at a reasonable price. It goes, stops, and handles, it's well built and it has that sturdy, precise European character that makes it something special for Americans and Canadians. On top of all this it's a more practical car because of its new hatchback body. A quality, European car at a realistic price-what more could one want."[7]

Special editions[edit]

1976–77 JPS Capri II, Capri II S - Black or white car body with gold striping, "Black chrome" trim, gold and black styled steel wheels and gold badging and grille surround.

In Europe, the JPS Capri II celebrated the success of the John Player Special cigarettes Formula 1 team, and emulated its black and gold livery. In the US, anti-tobacco advertising laws required a name change to Capri II S. The interior received special seats and door panels: black with gold cloth inserts.

Second generation (1979–1986)[edit]

Second generation
Mercury Capri RS
Also calledFord Mustang (1979–1993)
AssemblyDearborn, Michigan, United States
San Jose, California, United States (1979-1981 only)
Body and chassis
Body style2-door hatchback
LayoutFR layout
PlatformFord Fox platform
Engine2.3 L OHC I4
2.3 L OHC (turbo)
2.8 L OHV V6
3.3 L OHV I6
3.8 L OHV V6
4.2 L OHV 2-bbl. V8
5.0 HO 4-bbl V8
5.0 HO EFI V8
Wheelbase100.5 in (2,553 mm)

For the 1979 model year, the Capri nameplate returned to Lincoln-Mercury, officially becoming a Mercury-badged product. In place of continuing to use the existing European Capri as a captive import, Mercury used a domestically-sourced vehicle, choosing to rebadge the redesigned 1979 Ford Mustang. While shifting away from a European-style sports coupe, the new Capri gave Mercury its first successor to the 1967-1970 Mercury Cougar. Along with the base-trim Capri, Mercury offered the Capri Ghia (shared with the Mustang), Capri GS, Capri RS, and Capri Turbo RS[8]. The Capri RS was the Capri equivalent of a Mustang GT.

Along with the Ford Mustang, the second-generation Mercury Capri was based upon the rear-wheel drive Ford Fox platform. In a split from the Mustang, the Capri was offered solely in the three-door hatchback configuration. While both vehicles were given four headlights, the Capri received its own front and rear fascia, with a vertically-mounted grille and model-specific taillight lenses.

In 1983, the Capri was given updated front and rear bumpers, with a redesigned rear hatch, distinguished with a large compound-curve "bubble-back" rear window. For 1984, the front fascia of the Capri RS was fitted with a front air dam, with the same exterior continuing through 1986.

The second-generation Capri was produced through the 1986 model year. For 1987, Ford gave the third-generation Mustang a mid-cycle update, with Mercury focusing towards the Cougar XR7 as its two-door performance vehicle.

Special editions[edit]

1981–1983 Black Magic - Black cars with gold striping, gold metric TRX wheels and a gold cat's head on each side of the front valance. The interior received special black seats with sand-colored inserts (code YA), with Recaro seating optional in 1982 (code TA) and Sport Performance seating optional in 1983 (code HA). In the 1981 and 1982 models years the Black Magic option could be ordered with polar white (code 9D) paint but otherwise had the same exterior appointments as the black cars (gold striping, gold TRX wheels, and gold cat's heads). Magazine ads for the 9D Black Magic used the term "white lightning" but the name of the package was still Black Magic. The 1983 model is extremely rare and the only Black Magic to receive the compound rear window.

1983 Crimson Cat - Bright red (code 27) paint with gold striping and Cougar XR-7 TRX wheels set this car apart. Crimson Cat received black sport performance seating with red inserts (code KA).

1984 Charcoal Turbo RS - A Capri RS Turbo that was only available in charcoal upper-silver lower exterior paint with light grey striped rub mouldings, Garrett 60 trim turbocharger, enhanced multiport EFI four-cylinder engine, Michelin TRX package, 5.0 HO Sway bars, 3.45:1 limited slip rear axle, hood scoop, and orange and red lettering and striping. Sun- and T-top roofs were optional.

1985 Mercury Motorsport Capri - Built as pace cars replicas to commemorate the Mercury Motorcity 100, the Trans Am Series race run during the fourth year of the Detroit Grand Prix weekend. These were also modified by ASC McLaren for Mercury and are highly sought after for their racing heritage and low production of 55 total units (50 replica's, 4 track cars and 1 prototype).


This particular generation was successful in the Trans Am Series, winning the championship from 1984-1985 with an aftermarket V8 engine. The Mercury Capri 5.0L was the car used by the Jack Roush team with Wally Dallenbach Jr. driving to win the 1985 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans AM championship in 1985.


ASC McLaren (1984-1986)[edit]

1985 ASC McLaren Mercury Capri convertible

ASC (American Sunroof Corporation, now known as American Specialty Cars) converted Mercury Capris into convertibles and enhanced standard hatchbacks which they renamed coupes.


The coupes were tuned and enhanced with a number of suspension and visual upgrades including striping, a built-in radar detector, ground effects, Hella fog lights, headlight and taillight covers and honey comb wheels imported from Campagnolo in Italy.

For 1984, coupes (25 produced) were all painted midnight blue. The 1985-1986 coupes (150 produced in 1985) were either painted blue or white. In 1986 (115 made), the last year for the coupes, customers had an even larger choice of colors, including smoke charcoal grey and raven black, joining the Oxford white and midnight blue, as well as silver metallic.

Coupes were equipped with the Ford Motorsport B303 camshaft,[9] creating significantly more power than the rated 200 bhp (149 kW)/210 bhp (157 kW) of the standard 5.0L motors. Additionally, all coupes were shod with BFGoodrich Comp T/A radials. The 225/50/15 low profile size of these tires (as opposed to the standard 5.0L Capri's 225/60/15) raised the ASC/McLaren Coupe's effective gear ratio from 3.08:1 to approximately 3.35:1. These were the quickest cars produced by Ford in 1985 and 1986 with zero to sixty times well under six seconds and quarter mile times in the mid-13 second range.


In comparison to the coupes, the convertibles were a far more involved project, as the conversion required the redesign of the unit construction of the car. Fabrication required a replacement rear deck lid, floor reinforcements, quarter panel caps, tonneau cover and a windshield that was raked back an extra 10 degrees.

Convertibles received a manual convertible top that took up residence in the area once designated for the rear seats. The model-unique top is smaller than that designed for a standard Mustang convertible, requiring design-specific equipment such as seals, weatherstripping, windshield moldings, etc.

In total, only 557 convertibles were built during its 1984-1986 production run.[10]

Ford Mustang (Mexico, 1981-1984)[edit]

1982-1983 Ford Mustang coupé, Mexican market version

The third-generation Ford Mustang was manufactured in Ford's Cuatitlan Itzcalli plant (located in Mexico City) from 1979 to 1984 for the Mexican market. It was produced in both hatchback and notchback coupe body-styles.

From 1981 to 1984, the Mexican Mustang was a hybrid assembly of body parts from both the Mustang and Mercury Capri featuring the taillights of the Capri, using the Capri front fascia from 1982 to 1983. From 1983 to 1984, the Mustang hatchback used the Capri "blistered" front and rear fenders and the "bubble-back" rear hatch. 1984 models reverted to using a Mustang front fascia.

Third generation (1991–1994)[edit]

Third generation
Mercury Capri Convertible
Ford Mercury Capri Innenraum.JPG
Mercury Capri interior
Also calledFord Capri
AssemblyCampbellfield, Victoria, Australia
Body and chassis
Body style2-door roadster
LayoutFF layout
RelatedMazda 323
Engine1.6 L B6D I4
1.6 L Turbo B6T I4
Transmission4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase94.7 in (2,405 mm)
Length1993–94: 167.1 in (4,244 mm)
1991–92: 166.1 in (4,219 mm)
Width64.6 in (1,641 mm)
Height1991–92: 50.2 in (1,275 mm)
1993–94 Base: 50.4 in (1,280 mm)
1993–94 XR2: 49.9 in (1,267 mm)
Mercury Capri XR2 convertible

For the 1991 model year, the Mercury Capri made its return to the Mercury division after a five-year hiatus. To give Lincoln-Mercury a competitor for the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Toyota MR2, the Capri was released as two-door roadster. In a fashion similar to the first-generation Mercury Capri, the third-generation version is a captive import; produced by Ford of Australia alongside its Ford Capri counterpart and the Ford Falcon, the Mercury Capri was intended for American exports. For the first time since 1978, the Mercury Capri was the first Mercury without any Ford counterpart in North America.

Derived from the Australian Ford Laser (sold in the United States as the first-generation Mercury Tracer), the Ford Capri also shares drivetrain commonality with the Mazda 323. To adapt the Capri for North American sale, Lincoln-Mercury made several changes over the Australian-market Capri. Along with the addition of a driver-side airbag (required to meet passive restraint requirements), the dashboard was changed to non-metric gauges; Mercury Capris are fitted with body-color bumpers.

While both two-door convertibles similar in size and price, the Mercury Capri and Mazda MX-5 featured major departures in powertrain and interior configurations, with the Capri adopting a front-wheel drive powertrain. While the MX-5 was strictly a two-seat vehicle, the Capri was a 2+2, with (small) rear seats. Along with folding back seats (allowing access to the trunk), the Capri also offered the option of a removable hard top (similar to the MX-5).

From 1991 to 1993, the Mercury Capri was sold with minimal revisions; for 1994, the Mercury Capri received the new taillamps and front and rear bumpers received by the Ford Capri in 1993. During its entire production, the Mercury Capri was sold under two trim levels: base-trim and XR2, distinguished largely by powertrain. The base trim was equipped with a 100hp Mazda 1.6L DOHC inline-4; the XR2 was equipped with a turbocharged version of the 1.6L engine, rated at 132hp. A five-speed manual transmission was standard for both trims, with a four-speed automatic available on base-trim Capris. The XR2 came standard with an independent rear suspension and offered reinforced front and rear sway bars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facilities | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Archived from the original on 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
  2. ^ a b c 1970-'74 Ford Capri, Retrieved 10 April 2016
  3. ^ Road and Track 1971 Road test annual 1971
  4. ^ Road and Track-February 1971
  5. ^ Road and Track-March 1972
  6. ^ Road and Track-1975 Road Test annual
  7. ^ Road and Track-1977 Road Test annual
  8. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1980_Lincoln/1980_Lincoln-Mercury_Brochure". Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  9. ^ ascMcLaren Coupe Modifications
  10. ^ "ascMcLaren Capri and Mustang Information, Pictures and Resources". Retrieved 2017-06-16.

External links[edit]